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A biography of the beloved United States president by D. W. Griffith.
You can find more information regarding this film on its IMDb page.
This movie is part of the collection: Feature Films
Director: D.W. Griffith
Producer: D.W. Griffith
Production Company: Feature Productions
Audio/Visual: sound, b&w
Creative Commons license: Public Domain
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Robert B. Livingston -
Subject: Interesting Document of Civil War Iconography and Early Cinema
This is an interesting film for many reasons.
A few thoughts:
Only one negro appears in the film (who appears to actually be a white man in blackface)-- and he is a butt of ridicule.
The confederate flag in the movie is historically questionable.
John Wilkes Booth's speech at Ford's theater is included, while Lincoln's Gettysburg Address is completely absent from this film.
Hobart Bosworth delivers the most realistic performance as Robert E. Lee (although lacking a convincing Southern accent). (Many of the Illinois residents seem to have Southern accents.)
The film was adapted for the screen by none other than Stephen Vincent Benet.
Walter Huston's performance of Lincoln's character is ponderous and wooden, and his didactic refrain: "For we must preserve the Union!" gets to be quite tiring, if not amusing to a modern viewer who might be expecting a "punch line".
Perhaps most interesting is that this movie is very similar to many modern movies which tend to dumb down history, toss in a gratuitous romance, and replace nuanced arguments with homilies.
This movie if remade today (by the formulaic requirements of Hollywood marketing) would likely be little different than as it was first produced here by D.W. Griffith.
Nevertheless, a truly moving and nuanced film about Lincoln, his conflicts and his complex personality would be a film that (even today) screams out to be made.
UPDATE November 2010: Spielberg is making a movie about Lincoln starring Daniel Day Lewis:
Subject: For Pete's sake, look at Griffith
Everyone seems to know (and argue) way too much about Lincoln. I agree with most, he was a great man who accomplished great things for this country. As far as this film is concerned with teaching about Lincoln, we must always keep in mind the year it was made in and more specifically the director who made it.
As far as the "accuracy" of this film goes, let's first take this into consideration. This is a 1930 film. Sixty-five years have already passed the country by. This is a time that no one seems to take into account the severe difference of media and record keeping versus present day. There are no motion pictures from the Civil War era because no motion pictures existed yet.
Let us also briefly look at the movie industry. Q: Why was it in existence? A: To make copious amounts of money. So why would Griffith make a historically accurate, socially unacceptable, non-money-making film? He wouldn't. Griffith instead made a film that twists some facts, appeals it to the crowds, and makes a lot of money. He did not set out to make educational films.
When you look at a piece of history, you can't look at it in a vacuum. We must look at all the ventures of 1930 surrounding the creation of this film. What was society like then? How did people feel then? We cannot go blindly into this comparing this piece of HISTORY as an accurate resource of information on Abraham Lincoln. We must view and internalize it for what it is, not what it isn't.
Lastly, if anyone here has seen any other Griffith films, they would know his style, his prejudice, and his utter disrespect for many peoples. Obviously a man who encapsulates the KKK as a group of heros has issues (Birth of a Nation). Birth of a Nation had become such a powerfully negatively angled movie, it ended up sparking racial riots.
It seems obvious to me, on an issue such as this, Griffith's work on Lincoln cannot be viewed as historically accurate, but rather used as a window into the mentality of that period of time as opposed to now.
Who cares if they got Lincoln's birthday wrong. This film was obviously not created to teach the truth, but to preach a disposition.
Subject: Lincoln was born in Kentucky
Malscott, before you post a comment on something factual, you should look it up first, to make sure you aren't wrong. You were wrong on two points. Out of two.
Lincoln was born in KY, moved to Indiana when he was 7, and LATER moved to Illinois.
Subject: an inaccuracy?
ya i see an inaccuracy? at 4:21 Abe says hes from indiana indiany lol history books always told me hes was born in illinois. wonder how that one slipped by.
Bill Still -
Subject: Abe is OK
For crying out loud, give this movie a break! It was one of the first talkies. The confederate flag is barely visible and I'm not so sure it's even an accurate depiction. But no matter, it's history, get over it! There is more than one black. Just doing a quick scan, I saw several scenes of blacks lining a parade route and throwing things to the marchers. You have to have no life at all if you want to criticize this on today's PC grounds. And hey, it's not up to today's standards for fast moving action either -- no car chases. This was done just 50 years after the fact. They didn't have to look up how people dressed or talked in books; it was still fresh in their minds.
Telephone Toughguy -
Subject: Did not watch the movie
Becuase he was a republican that ruined all those nice southern farmer's lives.
Subject: Medveds be damned!
Forever damned as one of the 50 Worst Movies of All Time by those well respected critics (sarcasm) The Medved brothers, Abraham Lincoln is by all means not the worst movie Ive ever seen, heck, I really wouldnt call it bad, it just a bit slow and has some hooty moments, but otherwise might serve as a nice early representation of a president on Film.
Walter Huston, brilliant actor as he is, I dont think quite pulls off the role here. His Lincoln is awfully stiff, goes dreamy eyed when making Some Significant Statement. Actually, all the acting is quite stiff here, I guess being the time, they were still doing Silent Movie Acting and not quite getting the rythym down yet for sound films. Least person to know this is the actress playing Mrs Lincoln, who always jumping around, acting acting acting.
As for the story, Im not American, so I cant really judge of whats true or not, but it does make coherent sense, So I have no complaints about this really.
Subject: An Interesting Look at Abe Lincoln
It may be a more interesting look at how the makers of this film portrayed these times and personalities. The black face and the emphasis on the reason for the war was probably to make sure it could make money in southern states.(just a guess)
Subject: Abe Lincoln
A good film, for the time. The mpeg-1 is a fine file. It is an intersting look at his life. I found the model of the Lincoln Memorial to be an accurate idea of what it would look like before it was built. This is a must see, If you are interested in the life of Lincoln. Although it ends with his assisnation at Fords Theater with Booth Jumping down to the stage, then fades to his log cabin and the credits, no follow up.
Buck Hummer -
Subject: Saint Abe Lincoln - one generation removed
The film, actually presents more like a film of a stage play, makes one consider the pacing of viewers in the 1930s, be prepared to be p a t i e n t, no really p a t i e n t. Remember many viewers would have been children during the reconstruction and is poignant to see how reverently the president was remembered.
The Holmes -
Subject: Classic Griffith
This is a historically important film simply for the fact that it is the first sound film directed by D.W. Griffith. You can definately tell that the actors were not used to having to speak thier lines, as the acting is rigid and may seem boring. However, the style of the directing and cinematography is pure Griffith.